Brown Deer - Even though teachers, building administrators, and even some of his own students had just finished duct-taping him to the wall of the Brown Deer Middle School gymnasium, physical education teacher Paul Scioli had nothing but good things to say about the kids and their recent fundraising drive for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Wisconsin.
"The students did a great job," he said, grinning and laughing. "They worked hard for the last three weeks, and they did everything they could."
Of course, they had some incentive. Scioli, well regarded by his students but infamous throughout the school for his devotion to the Minnesota Vikings, had offered up a bet: meet the fundraising goal of $2,000, and you can tape me to the wall of the gym.
And so when the students smashed the goal and brought in more than $2,700 in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual "Pennies for Patients" drive, Scioli had no choice but to live up to his end of the bargain. He emerged before an assembly of the entire school Friday afternoon decked out head to toe in Vikings regalia, topped off with a purple-painted cheesehead fashioned with horns.
To the applause and laughter of the school, teachers, Principal Ellis Turrentine, and two members of the student council put strip after strip of duct tape on Scioli - someone had even found Packers' tape - before the heart stopping moment when sixth-grade teacher Julie Shiff pulled the chair out from under him and he clung to the wall, supported by the tape alone.
"I thought he was going to be higher up," mused Student Council Secretary Megan Yang after the fact. "Doing this, it means we're helping out a lot of people."
Kate Rundell, accepting a check on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, called the fundraising "completely outstanding." In comparison to the more than 500 participating Wisconsin schools, Brown Deer well exceeded the average of $1,000 in fundraising. With the help of districts like Brown Deer, Rundell said, Pennies for Patients is already ahead of its $1.3 million total from last year.
"It feels good to help people," Student Council President Alex Millet said after the assembly. "They say teenagers don't care, but this shows that they do."
"Every penny counts," added Turrentine, "and I think it shows our kids are conscious of what's going on around them."
Outside of the obvious good done for lymphoma and leukemia patients, Scioli hopes the fundraiser and assembly had another effect on students.
"I'm trying to convert them into Vikings fans," he said, peeling duct tape off his sweat shirt and high-fiving students as they filed out of the gym. "It's kind of failing, but you never know. If you get one a year, you're doing good."
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